Of any martial art or sport Wing Chun is the most obsessed about lineage; who was your sifu, who was his teacher etc. If I am honest I think that this has a lot to do with marketing. There are many people in the UK who will tell you that they teach pure traditional wing chun as taught to them by their sifu, in many instances saying their own sifu is a son of Ip Man. But if they were acting within the rules of traditional Chinese culture they cannot make such claims. Your sifu is the person who first taught you the art, your martial father. Even if you go to Hong Kong to train you cannot at some point skip a family generation and pay your grandfather to become your father. You can learn from anyone, but it is disingenuous to claim that particular connection to an individual by bowing a few times and handing over a packet of money.
I like to think about lineage as being part of your DNA, it shows where you come from and points to where you might go. What is at least important as that is where you are now and your direction of travel. There is no point trying to recreate some long gone ideal (which may never existed), but an understanding of the past is vital to help us know where we are going. We can therefore think of those who come before us as people who trained and made mistakes on our behalf. They have shaped an art and refined it, but it is our job to continue that. Ip Man was not fixated with the past, he changed and refined the art continuously whilst in Hong Kong, yet others want to recreate what he taught in 1950 or even what he learned in 1920. At Sung we have many students who have previously trained in other lineages but decided that the direction of travel they have set on is not right for them. For me this is a good sign of self awareness. I am happy to be their teacher/coach, but I will not claim a title to sound superior.
Mindfulness is a very popular phrase at the moment; to live life in the moment. This for me is the key in progressing in wing chun. Chi sau is not a set of mindless drills, it teaches how to remain alert and responsive at all times; no set patterns. Most people struggle with the idea of mindfulness as they are constantly obsessing about the past, or planning for the future; the present is lost to them because of continual mental chatter. Chi sau is a microcosm of the mental battle. What we need is an awareness of the past, an idea of where we want to go and then just let it be and allow our minds sort it out for us.
We are very proud of our lineage at Sung, that should be evident from our website. Having connection to a wing chun genius like Chu Shong Tin cannot helps but shape our perspective on the art and what it should be. But our true obsession is not about history, it is the NOW, working on developing what we have at the moment and where we want it to take us. That should be evident to all of our students.
3/30/2016 10:05:08 am
This is a well structured piece Dan. I also agree that mindfulness is a word we hear a great deal about at the minute and for me Sung goes a little further. You do need to be in 'the moment' as you practise but it is also about contemplation or reflection after training and during SLT that helps create and shape our continued learning.
3/30/2016 03:13:47 pm
Many thanks Jon, but more a mental dump than a structured piece. You of all people probably recognise that the areas I focus upon in the blog are areas where I am working on myself. Being in the moment does not mean disregard of the future or the past, it is stopping that critical part of the mind which judges our thoughts and actions and sets in motion a spiral of negative thought. Chi sau should be only about 10% of our weekly practice, the lessons we learn from that are more than enough to work on when we return to our solo standing. Not necessarily a message most want to hear.
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